23 May 2007

problems? what problems? just work harder

i had lunch today with a former UN special rapporteur and a former attorney general of india. the best i can say about the experience is that it was uninspiring.

the former attorney general seemed genuinely unaware (or was it indifference?) of how the majority of the indian population live. faced with specific court rulings or state action in violation of legal and constitutional provisions, his only response was that the 'ten per cent of good rulings that indian courts come out with' should also be taken note of. so next time a human rights abuse case is brought to my attention, i will tell the victim it is unfortunate they do not fall into that ten per cent.

the attorney general's motivating last words were that if NGOs worked harder, and for free, more progress might be made. for a few moments i was amused. my amusement wore off very quickly though; how dare he put the burden on us? i wasted a considerable amount of time after that being annoyed, whereas most of my colleagues simply shrugged it off.

i should be used to such attitudes, but i learnt today that i am not. i also have not developed the thick skin needed in human rights work. i will always be fighting against the odds. i will always be surrounded by people who exploit others with the greatest ease. admitting this, accepting it, and moving on, is in many ways harder than dealing with individual violations.

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